Fall breezes in with whispers of Halloween, and that means we’re thinking of ghost stories and beautiful places with tragic pasts, dark secrets and histories worth exploring. As you muck about with tales of mystery, rest your head with ease at a gorgeous hotel that’s only a short distance from where things have been known to go bump in the night.
If you’re up to the challenge, start with these five paranormal-charged destinations.
When a cemetery has been around for centuries, it’s sure to have a haunting past. Such is the case with this honorable resting place that houses the bodies of notable figures, including the most famous first lady of Argentina, Eva Perón; award-winning Argentine actress Zully Moreno; the founder of the Argentine navy, William Brown; writer and critic Paul Groussac; artist Mariette Lydis; and numerous former presidents of the nation.
With 4,691 above-ground vaults and architecture spanning an array of styles, including art deco, baroque and neo gothic, the setting is just as stunning as the stories of this cemetery’s residents. Perhaps you’ll see the ghost of Rufina Cambaceres, a young socialite who was mistakenly pronounced dead, only to die of a heart attack after being buried alive. Even if you don’t spot her wispy form, there’s a beautiful statue erected in her memory on her family’s tomb.
Where to Stay: If Cambaceres were alive today, she probably would have cozied up a mile and a half over at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Park Tower, A Luxury Collection Hotel. This is a stay fit for royalty, backed by a guest lineup that has included Monaco’s Prince Albert, former president Bill Clinton and Mohammed VI of Morocco. The accommodations prove opulent and as elegant as the famous graveyard, but much more inviting.
The Crescent City has known some ghosts, and the LaLaurie Mansion is one of the most famous spots for sighting specters. Part of its notoriety comes thanks to the third season of FX drama American Horror Story, which brought to light the tale of Madame Delphine LaLaurie (played with artistic liberties by Kathy Bates, mind you), a thrice-married mother who was known to torture her slaves and bury their remains inside. Long after she left, bones were found in the walls and floor.
In the building’s following incarnations, first as a boarding house then a school, tales of murder on the property and harassment by ghosts became commonplace. Even today, paranormal experts claim the structure is haunted. Go to 1140 Royal Street yourself and see what spookiness lingers. Since you can’t go inside the building, book a visit through Ghost City Tours and get the full story as you observe from the street.
Where to Stay: About a mile away, you can score a room at Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. Soothe your nerves with a cocktail at the Davenport Lounge or get a relaxing treatment in the 25,000-square-foot Four-Star spa — you may need both after a ghost walk. And if you haven’t had your fill of fright, take a peek at the Museum of Death just a block away from the hotel.
Don’t let the name fool you — this 17th-century fort has a notorious past and a couple good ghost stories to boot. The Dutch East India Company built this structure in the 1670s, and today it remains the country’s oldest colonial building — no wonder it has such a long list of spirit sightings.
One apparition is that of a big black dog that pounces on people and then vanishes. There’s also mysterious ringing from the sealed-off bell tower, and a tall man walking between the bastions Leerdam and Oranje before jumping off a wall. The building is open daily, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day, so you can go searching for souls any time of year.
Where to Stay: Reserve a room at the regal Taj Cape Town. Occupying a former bank, the city center hotel boasts impressive vaulted ceilings and marble floors. It also exudes an Indian-themed style that extends to the recently renovated restaurant Bombay Brasserie. Try to snag a room overlooking Table Mountain and take in a view that’s to die for.
With wall-to-wall bones, the catacombs beneath the City of Light just might be the spookiest place in France. But funny enough, there’s not a particularly violent history behind the creation. In essence, it was a way to bury a lot of people quickly and away from the city for health reasons — after all, 200 miles of tunnels already existed under Paris. Over the course of 12 years, in went the bones of between 6 and 7 million exhumed bodies, some dating back more than 1,200 years.
With so many disturbed graves, it’s no wonder tales of spirits circulate around this underground crypt. While no specific ghost stories exist, some guests have sensed fingers and figures as they toured. Visit for yourself and walk around the mile of open catacombs to see the neatly stacked skulls and bones. And even if you don’t feel a paranormal presence, there’s something about the underground destination that still feels terrifying, even in the middle of the day.
Where to Stay: Counter those dark and dingy passageways with a dose of glamour at Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Paris. The building that houses this beautiful property was erected in 16th century, on one of the oldest streets in Paris, rue Saint-Honoré. All of these details give the hotel added nobility, something also found in the accommodations — named to Forbes Travel Guide’s 2019 Verified List of the World’s Best Rooms — filled with rich silks and taffetas, stunning photographs by Ali Mahdavi and white marble bathrooms.
Believed to be erected more than 900 years ago (though archeological evidence shows the site is much older), Edinburgh Castle has served as a royal residence and military fortress, but the dungeon saw a lot of the action. It’s rumored the ghost of Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis (who was burned at the stake as a witch) wanders the corridors, as well as a lonely bagpiper who disappeared into the belly of the castle centuries later.
There’s been enough buzz about the castle’s otherworldly occupants that it became the subject of one of the largest paranormal investigations in history in 2001. Venture to this fantastic and phantasm-filled site to learn more about its history and the wandering beings inhabiting it.
Where to Stay: For a decidedly decadent stay just a stone’s throw from the famed castle, rest your head at the lavish Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh — The Caledonian. Calm your nerves with a treatment at the U.K.’s only Guerlain Spa, or look for a dram of liquid courage at The Caley Bar. Bring your four-legged friend along to the pet-friendly property for added protection against any unwanted visitors.